Laying on of hands - what does the Bible say?



Question: "Laying on of hands - what does the Bible say?"

Answer:
"Laying on of hands" is a Biblical action, however, there is no Biblical mandate requiring the physical laying on of hands for particular spiritual ministry. Jesus certainly laid His hands on many He healed, however He also healed without laying His hands on people. In fact, there were times when He was nowhere near the vicinity of those He healed. "The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed" (Matthew 8:8).

Following are two instances to consider where in one case the Holy Spirit bestows the gift of speaking in tongues with the act of an apostle's laying on of hands and in the other case He does so without the laying on of hands, but simply through the apostle's preaching:

"And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied" (Acts 19:3-6).

"While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" (Acts 10:44-47).

In the following verse, the thought is not so much in cautioning the physical action of laying on of hands as it is to the idea that bestowing the responsibility of spiritual leadership (however it is done) is to be done with care. It is not to be done "suddenly" or without due consideration. "Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure" (1 Timothy 5:22).

Undoubtedly the laying on of hands in the early church was a means of connecting the message with the messenger, or the spiritual gift with the gifted giver. It provided a "sign" authenticating he thru whom the physical manifestation of a spiritual gift was bestowed. Jesus said it would be involved in the gift of healing in the overall signs of believers as they went about ministering the gift of healing. We need to understand very carefully that there are no magical Biblical formulas for the ministry of the Church. Laying on of hands has no power in itself. Laying on of hands is only used by God when it is done in agreement with God's Word.


Recommended Resource: The Quest Study Bible.


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What does the Bible say about healing?

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Why pray?

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Laying on of hands - what does the Bible say?